Warsaw, 7 October 2022
Cooperation with Poland and Polish business is a significant opportunity for post-war Ukraine – conclusions of the conference “Europe-Poland-Ukraine. Rebuild Together”
More than 900 people – including entrepreneurs from Poland and Ukraine, local government representatives, experts, parliamentarians and politicians, led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – took part in the international conference “Europe-Poland-Ukraine. Rebuild Together” organised by the ZPP and WEI.
Stakeholders met at the Hilton Warsaw City hotel in the capital to discuss the opportunities for business cooperation between Poland and Ukraine, the conditions necessary for its development and the challenges the community of the two countries face.
This lively meeting has shown that one thing is clear – it is the cooperation of Poland and Ukraine that will be crucial to the process of rebuilding Kyiv. Ukrainian entrepreneurs need Polish experience in the process of economic and social transformation. Polish business, on the other hand, expects social and legal solutions in order to be truly involved in the upliftment of the neighbouring country after the war.
Poland and Ukraine – mutually beneficial cooperation
“«We, and you together, are sitting on the same branch of Moscow’s misery», said Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky at the Hadiach council in 1658. It is high time to learn from this”, said Cezary Kaźmierczak, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, opening the conference.
“Over the centuries, through lack of communication, we have done all sorts of stupid things. Moscow benefited from this, skilfully fuelling all sorts of conflicts between us and securing an advantage over us. I hope that this period is now left behind. (…) The Poland-Ukraine alliance and cooperation, if we put our minds to it, can change the balance of power and the shape of Europe. This will give our region greater political and economic significance” – he stressed.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also spoke about the need to cooperate for the benefit of both countries and business. “We are witnessing a geopolitical turn, a huge change. We need to build a new security architecture, the foundation on which this change is to be based”, he said.
Among the necessary elements, the head of government listed: the reconstruction of Ukraine, its accession to the EU, drawing in more countries with aspirations to join the Community, proper arming of the Polish army, as well as strengthening the defence system within NATO and bringing about «a great reorientation of energy policy»”.
Mateusz Morawiecki indicated that Poland is in favour of confiscating Russian capital and allocating it to the reconstruction of Ukraine. In turn, a new energy policy must, in his view, “consist of moving away from Russian hydrocarbons (…) through a process of sanctions, but also reducing dependence on hydrocarbons in general”.
“The Kremlin, Moscow, Russia and Putin behave like a drug dealer who gives the first doses for free in order to addict the future victim. This is exactly how Russia behaved towards Germany and Western Europe – giving them cheap gas”, he said.
Following the introductory speeches, the conference included three plenary discussions and four panel discussions on specific industries. The first part of the event discussed Poland’s role in the reconstruction of Ukraine, the importance of European cooperation and how to support the cooperation between Poland and Ukraine.
Panel “Reconstruction of Ukraine: what role Poland will play”.
The discussion on Poland’s mission in the process of rebuilding Kyiv was attended by Minister in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Jakub Kumoch, Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz, MP Michał Dworczyk, MP of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Yelyzaveta Yasko and the President of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka.
The topic of their discussion was the character of Poland’s assistance to Ukraine – bilateral, direct. Poland, as the interlocutors emphasised, is an ally of Ukraine on the international stage. It is thanks to the efforts of Polish diplomacy that international aid to the struggling country has been increased. However, it was emphasised that in order for Polish business to be more active on the Ukrainian market and involved in the rebuilding of Ukraine, the administrations of both countries must create friendly and transparent rules.
Minister in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland Jakub Kumoch stressed that it is business that will rebuild Ukraine, and the role of the state is only to create optimal conditions for this and to support Ukraine on the path to military victory. “Ukraine must be rebuilt with Russian money, which is in the West, and it should be used for this very purpose,” he said.
As the minister pointed out, it is not the case that reconstruction begins only after the war. For this one is already happening during the conflict – after all, the people of the country influenced by it have to live. “Kyiv is coming back to life, as well as Kharkiv. Right now, this main process is starting”, Kumoch noted.
Ukrainian MP Yelyzaveta Yasko acknowledged that Ukraine needs Poland’s experience concerning the transition, but also help with building new infrastructure (including communications and energy) and overcoming logistical problems.
“Businesses will be involved in rebuilding Ukraine, but it is the politicians who need to create the legal framework to safely boost business in Ukraine. (…) It is a huge challenge of what to do to develop business relations between the two countries and how to overcome a number of stereotypes and problems that entrepreneurs realistically have to face,” admitted member of the Council of Ministers Michał Dworczyk.
The President of the BGK Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka drew attention to financial issues: “there are voices about a second Marshall plan, but there is no public money, nobody wants to give grants, there are only loans, and this is how Ukraine will most likely be rebuilt”.
Ukraine’s needs and European cooperation
Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union means that the country will have to carry out system reforms and face its current issues: the oligarchy of the economy and corruption – these were the main topic discussed during the second panel.
Participants included MP Marek Rutka, President of the Employers’ Group at the European Economic and Social Committee Stefano Mallia, Director-General of the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) Maciej Popowski, UkraineInvest CEO Sergiy Tsivkach, Nova Post Director Inna Khomych and the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Association of Direct Sales Nadiya Bedrychuk.
The debaters discussed together, among other things, how to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine.
“It is necessary to find a new formula for guarantees and long-term loans, a mix of grants and loans,” said Marcin Popowski. The expert recalled that at least EUR 350 billion is needed for the reconstruction of Ukraine – so far the EU has allocated 19 billion. In his opinion, the process of rebuilding Ukraine runs in parallel with the announcement of changes resulting from the EU accession process. These reforms will improve the judiciary, including the fight against corruption.
“Ukraine is changing”, asserted UkraineInvest CEO Sergiy Tsivkach. “At the beginning of the war, about 80 % of Ukrainian companies stopped operating, now about 90 % are operating. And the administration supports business even during the war”, he said.
“When a country is attacked, we protect not only our borders, but also our business”, he said. Tsivkach mentioned that among the problems facing Ukraine were the relocation of businesses and the promotion of new investments – among those coming from Russia.
“I encourage Polish and global investors to consider Ukraine, because the opportunities are huge. Nowhere will you get such a return on investment as you currently do here. What do we need? Cooperation with foreign partners and especially – technology”, he added.
Reconstruction of Ukraine: how to support Polish-Ukrainian business cooperation
The last panel focused on how to improve the interaction of entrepreneurs from neighbouring countries. The Minister of Economic Development and Technology Waldemar Buda, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament Halyna Yanchenko, Executive Director of the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs (SUP) Kateryna Glazkova, President of the Polish Development Fund Paweł Borys, PGNiG’s advisor for cooperation with Ukraine Ireneusz Derek, President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Gennadiy Chyzhykov and Member of the PKN ORLEN S.A. Management Board Jan Szewczak discussed what activities and processes could intensify business activity between Poland and Ukraine.
According to the discussion, Polish companies are interested in doing business in Ukraine. At the moment, 1,200 Polish entrepreneurs have already reported their readiness to rebuild Ukraine to the Polish Investment and Trade Agency. However, representatives of these entities are concerned about the protracted procedures in Ukraine and the corruption still present in Kyiv. Therefore, it is important that Ukraine now identifies not only its needs, but also the development model that is most beneficial to it. Foreign investors and other countries can help Ukraine, but the country itself needs to consistently solve the problems that can be obstacles to the investment climate.
Minister Waldemar Buda said that although it is not yet clear in which formula Ukraine will be rebuilt, due to its geographical proximity, but also good relations between the countries, Poland will be its serious ally in this process. “Ukraine faces a great opportunity because foreign financial capital will demand standards […]. This is a kind of catalyst for change from the point of view of public procurement, transparency, accessibility to public information, clarity of processes that take place in the economy”, said the head of the ministry.
According to Paweł Borys, President of the Polish Development Fund, Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU will also naturally force reforms that will increase its economic credibility and make it a friendlier market for Polish entrepreneurs. “It is extremely important to deoligarchise the economy and fight corruption. It is also necessary to create good conditions for the development of entrepreneurship, especially for companies in the SME sector”, Borys said.
In turn, Ireneusz Derek stressed that PGNiG hopes to drill the first gas wells in western Ukraine later this year. He recalled that the entity had bought a Ukrainian company for this purpose, together with the relevant licence.
Entrepreneurs present on the Ukrainian market also drew attention to problems concerning border crossings. In their opinion, it is necessary to shorten border check times, and it might be worth returning to the solution adopted for the European Football Championship years ago – i.e. a joint Polish-Ukrainian check instead of two separate ones.
The second part of the conference was devoted to discussions on specific industries. Five sectors were discussed – agriculture and food, defence and arms, transport and logistics, IT and new technologies, and urban and regional reconstruction. You will find separate coverage of these soon on our website and social media – we encourage you to follow them.
The conference concluded with closing speeches. The event’s closing banquet, which was a more relaxed occasion for networking and business, was attended by President of the Warsaw Enterprise Institute Tomasz Wróblewski, Vice President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers Marcin Nowacki, and President of the Employers’ Group at the European Economic and Social Committee Stefano Mallia.
The evening featured a performance by this year’s Eurovision winner, the Kalush Orchestra. It was an energetic, sincere and enthusiastically received conclusion of the entire conference. Their music, based on Ukrainian tradition and drawing on Kyiv folklore, got the crowd dancing. The business community, after listening to many hours of expert discussions on the future of Ukraine and Polish-Ukrainian cooperation, got up from their tables and, by singing and having a great time, showed that it is cooperation and ordinary neighbourly friendliness that are the guarantors of future success.
The conference is one of the elements of the ZPP programme, which aims to establish and strengthen relations between European, Polish and Ukrainian entrepreneurs and to prepare a framework for cooperation in the future reconstruction of the Ukrainian state and economy.
Organisers: Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers and Warsaw Enterprise Institute Foundation
Honorary Patronage: Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Ministry of State Assets
Main Partner: PKN ORLEN
Partners: Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu S.A., Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Polish Development Fund, Totalizator Sportowy
This project is co-financed by the state budget as part of a public task.